No matter what you’re going through, journaling is a great coping tool. And while it’s always a good idea to talk to a professional if you’re dealing with high levels of anxiety or any other mental health issue, you’d be hard-pressed to find a therapist who won’t recommend a good journaling prompt to help alleviate and ease symptoms.
Best types of journaling prompts for anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone: Over 40 million adults — or nearly 20% of the U.S. adult population — have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Journal prompts are a valuable tool everyone, but they can be particularly helpful for people who are new to journaling and hoping to ease anxiety but don’t know where to start.
When it comes to anxiety, journaling prompts should be aimed at helping you organize your thoughts, identify your anxiety triggers, or calm you down. The goal with journaling for anxiety is to take you from a stressed out, frazzled place to a calmer place both in a short-term and long-term capacity, so all journaling prompts for anxiety should be aimed at helping you achieve that goal.
40 journaling prompts for anxiety
Ready to start journaling for anxiety? Get out your favorite pen and journal, because we came up with 40 prompts to help you get started. Feel free to go through these one by one, or pick the one that best suits your needs on any given day. And if you have the time, journaling on more than one of these prompts is always a good idea.
- What does your perfect day look like?
- What people, places, activities or foods tend to trigger anxiety for you?
- Think of a time when you let negative thoughts spiral. What were those thoughts? Did they have a theme?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed that actually helps?
- What do you see, feel, and taste right now?
- What is something you look forward to every day?
- List three things you’re grateful for.
- What physical signs do you notice before an anxiety attack starts?
- What types of thought patterns do you notice before an anxiety attack starts?
- What emotions do you feel after an anxiety attack?
- What does a perfect day look like for you?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Make a list of compliments you’ve received from others.
- Write about a time when you felt truly happy.
- What negative thought or emotion do you experience the most often?
- Write about a time when you failed. What lessons did you learn from that experience?
- What quality do you love about yourself?
- What are your favorite inspirational quotes?
- Do you notice signs of anxiety or stress in others? What do you pick up on?
- Write down what your life would look like if you were truly free from anxiety.
- What are your most important values and goals?
- What have I learned from my mental health struggles?
- What’s one positive thing I can do for myself today?
- Who are the most important people in your life?
- What does self-care mean to you?
- Make a list of 10 things you’ve done in your life that you’re really proud of.
- What is something you’ve been holding onto for a while that you need to let go of?
- Will the thing you’re anxious about right now matter tomorrow? How about next week? In a month? In a year?
- What does the perfect morning routine look like for you, and what’s stopping you from having that kind of morning right now?
- Do you tend to feel less anxious when you regularly engage in physical activity? If so, how can you incorporate more of it in your life?
- Do you notice that you’re more anxious when you eat certain foods or consume certain beverages?
- Which symptom of anxiety is the most toxic in your life?
- Is there a person in your life who helps you calm down? What types of things do they say to you?
- What would you say to your best friend if they came to you with the same worries you have?
- Make a list of activities that make you feel calm. How can you incorporate three of those activities into your week?
- Is the thing that’s making you anxious right now a fact, or a story you’re telling yourself?
- Pick a single, positive word you want to focus on today, and journal about all the ways you have experienced it lately and want to incorporate it into your life more.
- Write down every single thing you’re anxious or worried about right now, big or small. Close your journal, put it in a drawer, and walk away.
- Imagine that your anxiety is a monster, and write a fictional story about it.
How journaling helps with anxiety
There are so many different methods of journaling. There’s reflective journaling, bullet journaling (the type of journal that Silk + Sonder closely aligns with), gratitude journaling, the list goes on and on.
When you think about journaling as a method to calm your anxious mind, there’s no “right” way to go about it — and research around journaling shows that the practice as a whole is great for reducing stress. You can write a letter to yourself, make a list of things that are causing anxiety, or simply free-write.
When you’re working to ease anxious thoughts, journaling is helpful because it gives you the ability to organize thoughts that may not be fully formed yet. When you sit down and write them out, you might be able to see that you’re creating a story in your head that isn’t the whole truth, or even pinpoint anxiety triggers. For example, studies show that sugar intake is correlated with anxiety. With a regular journaling habit, you may be able to see that every time you eat sugar, you feel just a little more anxious.
Journaling can also be a way to remove anxious thoughts from your head and put them somewhere else. Once they’re on a piece of paper, it can be easier to simply close your journal and move on. It can also be a great way to help you come up with a plan: If something very specific is making you anxious, what can you do about it?
Coping with anxiety isn't easy, and it's a lifelong journey for many of us. But we hope that by using the prompts above, you can gain some clarity and begin to ease your anxiety.